The Wingfield Pines Abandoned Mine Drainage site is located in Upper St. Clair, Allegheny County. In the 1940s, the land was strip mined and later transformed into Wingfield Pines golf course and swim club.
Twenty years passed before the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) obtained the land. The contaminated water from the old mine freely drained into Chartiers Creek, along with high contents of iron. ALT initiated plans to reclaim and restore the land, including purifying the water that was deposited into the creek.
The groundwater becomes contaminated as it passes through the abandoned mine, dissolving portions of the iron still present in the mines. The ferrous iron becomes ferric iron when the water comes into contact with oxygen. An orange tint results when the iron becomes solid and falls out of the water, leaving deposits on the bottom of the ponds.
Passive drainage systems use gravity to slowly drive the water through five settling ponds, plus a wetland. The water moves at a slow enough pace to maximize contact with atmospheric oxygen, which induces iron precipitation. It takes approximately 48 hours for the water to flow from its entry point in Pond 1 to the outflow point at the end of the wetland area. The 8-acre network of settlement ponds and wetlands eliminates 99 percent of the iron oxide from entering Chartiers Creek.
"Environmental field-testing and analysis is particularly useful for developing good scientific habits. This project demonstrated the living applications of unit conversion, mathematical manipulation, research, and organization. The digestion of data following collection utilizes mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering, and, most of all, patience. This project also sharpened my leadership skills. Managing multiple personnel, schedules, and various data implements was invaluable to my career development. Most of all, this project enhanced my critical thinking skills, as the scientific analysis of environmental processes contained within a world bound by the orders of imperfection helped me realize the necessity of critical thinking. Wingfield Pines represents more than a web page with contributions from students, land-trust board members, and instructors. It symbolizes a legacy of educational and personal development."
— Logan Hyland, Former Duquesne CERE Student